Janey Robinson

Story Extract: Crinkly Wood

Apr
22

This is an extract from an old submission I sent in for a writing course. It’s part of the opening chapter for a middle grade (eight to twelve year olds) novel called “Crinkly Wood”. I’m not convinced it’s suited to middle grade, and it’s seriously first draft, unedited material but I enjoy re-reading past work I’ve not picked up for a while. Sometimes it’s like reading something you’ve never read before and you wonder if it was you that even wrote it!

Everyone assumed I’d move out of our Wood Drive house, but Mrs Townsend and I had lived at number four for over forty years, leaving would be to remove the final traces or her and our life. So I stayed put and my dearest is never far from sight as I go about my daily routines. She’s there in a sterling silver frame on my bedside table when I go to sleep, Good night Dearie, and when I wake up, Morning Magpie. Then it’s down to get the door for the newspaper, milk and orange juice delivery from Pete, get a coffee going in the fancy machine from my son before heading back to bed to share the headlines.

Well my girl, you’d be shocked by what the buffoon has said now and well I never, they’re building a community on Mars and alright, I know I shouldn’t laugh but they choose to be in the public eye. As I dress and choose a shirt I discuss the options with her, as she stares back from our wedding photo on the wall. I know you don’t approve of pin stripes on a Tuesday but you’re dead, so what are you going to do about it! Oh, don’t look at me like that. In the kitchen I know she is frowning at me behind my back from the photomontage the children made for our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. My cooking is very limited. I know, eggs again. But I’m having them with potato cakes today, your favourite! We have a new life together and it suits me just fine.

My neighbours at Wood Drive are a good bunch. At number one is Ms Mellon. She was old when we moved here so I often wonder how old she really is now that forty years have passed. I used to imagine she was a witch, it felt like the only logical explanation. I didn’t really know her before Mrs Townsend died, but she came to the wake and later I saw she’d left a battenberg cake on the side with a scribbled note that read come round for tea on Sunday. I took her up on her offer and met her great granddaughter Helen. We became the ‘three that tea’d’ most Sundays thereafter.

I love their homemade cakes, biscuits and loaves, Ms Mellon is a brilliant baker. Sometimes there are disasters, like when Helen wanted to make rocky road slices and the marshmallow burned. Then we’d have raisin cake, ginger cake or Mr Kipling cakes from the local corner shop. I’d usually be forewarned of this with a call asking if I can come a little late. I’d silently curse. I really don’t like raisin cake, ginger cake or Mr Kipling cakes, apart from Mr Kipling’s Viennese Whirls. Cakes at number one are always accompanied by stories. Ms Mellon has so many and Helen is a great storyteller with tales from her school; she does brilliant impressions of her teachers.

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